China’s Long March-2F Y12 rocket is set to launch three astronauts to space next week

China rolled out its Long March-2F Y12 rocket to its launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Wednesday in preparation of sending astronauts to the nations’ new orbiting modular space station.

The three-person crew is set to board the Shebzhou-12 spacecraft next week and blast off to the main section of the Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, station that launched into orbit on April 29.

Astronauts are scheduled for a three-month stay, in which they will perform spacewalks, construction and maintenance work and carry out science experiments.

Cargo spacecraft sent up last month carried fuel, food and equipment to the station in preparation for the crewed mission.

The space agency plans a total of 11 launches through the end of next year to deliver two laboratory modules to expand the 70-ton station, along with supplies and crew members.

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 China rolled out its Long March-2F Y12 rocket to its launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Wednesday in preparation of sending astronauts to the nations’ new orbiting space station modular

Next week’s launch will be the third of those, and the first of the four crewed missions planned.

Another cargo mission is planned for September, shortly after which a replacement crew will be sent up, according to reports.

The station’s other two parts, known as modules, are expected to be launched next year.

China said in March the astronauts training for the upcoming crewed missions were a mix of space travel veterans and newcomers and included some women. 

The three-person crew is set to board the Shebzhou-12 spacecraft next week and blast off to the main section of the Tianhe

The three-person crew is set to board the Shebzhou-12 spacecraft next week and blast off to the main section of the Tianhe 

The space agency plans a total of 11 launches through the end of next year to deliver two laboratory modules to expand the 70-ton station, along with supplies and crew members

The space agency plans a total of 11 launches through the end of next year to deliver two laboratory modules to expand the 70-ton station, along with supplies and crew members

The Tiangong Space Station is expected to have a mass between 180,000 and 220,000 pounds. The three-person crew will stay on the Tianhe modular for three months

The Tiangong Space Station is expected to have a mass between 180,000 and 220,000 pounds. The three-person crew will stay on the Tianhe modular for three months

China has sent 11 astronauts into space to date, all of them pilots from the ruling Communist Party´s military wing, the People´s Liberation Army.

The first Tianhe crew will be all male, though women will be part of future crews on the station, according to Yang Liwei, who orbited Earth in China´s first crewed mission in 2003 and is now an official at the space agency.

The Tianhe builds on experience China gained from operating two experimental space stations earlier in its increasingly ambitious space program. 

China officials rolled the massive rocket out to the launch pad Wednesday

China officials rolled the massive rocket out to the launch pad Wednesday 

Pictured is the Shebzhou-12 spacecraft atop the rocket

Pictured is the Shebzhou-12 spacecraft atop the rocket

Chinese astronauts spent 33 days living on the second of the previous stations, carried out a spacewalk and taught science classes that were beamed down to students across the country. 

The nation has made a huge jump into the space race over the past year, with its most recent accomplish in May when it landed a probe, the Tianwen-1, on Mars that carried a rover, the Zhurong. 

The rover has a life expectancy of at least three months and during this time, it will record the Martian landscape with high-resolution three-dimensional images and analyze the material composition of the planet’s surface. 

Tianhe was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre on the southern island of Hainan, China on the Long March 5B, China's largest carrier rocket on April 29 (pictured)

Tianhe was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre on the southern island of Hainan, China on the Long March 5B, China’s largest carrier rocket on April 29 (pictured)

China has made a huge jump into the space race over the past year, with its most recent accomplish in May when it landed a probe, the Tianwen-1, on Mars that carried a rover, the Zhurong

China has made a huge jump into the space race over the past year, with its most recent accomplish in May when it landed a probe, the Tianwen-1, on Mars that carried a rover, the Zhurong

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